Day 44: Marshes and Mountains

Day 44: Marshes and Mountains

Google is attempting to dominate the self-driving car space. They have a massive lab in Mountain View to simulate driving conditions and their cars have logged more & safer miles than any competitor, by a wide margin. None of that is useful if they can’t get mapping right. Today was one of those days, where my sloppy oversight of their map caused me to end up on a couple of totally unmaintained dirt roads while moving between Shediac and Sackville. What google predicted would take a hair over two hours actually took 3.5. It was a sour start to a day that otherwise went quite well.

This morning I had a nice, heavy breakfast with Frank & Jean before setting off and snapping the requisite photo with the giant lobster. I quickly found my first dirt road but was close to the highway and backtracked. Then I took the next suggested road, a nice, paved secondary highway across the province. This led, with a bit of confusion, to Memramcook. Then, I took the suggested route toward Sackville, away from the twinned highway. After heading down a long hill, the road forked. Dead end to the left, gravel to the right. It was in decent shape so I continued. Plus, there was no exit on to the twinned highway toward Sackville in Memramcook. It almost immediately got worse, turning in to basically sand for a some steep uphills before long. I eventually had to push my bike up two of the hills, and plod along between the others, but eventually I made it to Sackville. Rather than a quick coffee stop, a serious lunch at the Black Duck was in order.

A burger and fries
A serious lunch at the Black Duck

Sated, I pointed the bike toward Amherst, a chance for reprieve as I navigated the flat Tantramar and Beausejour marshes. The recommended route was to go through Aulac and take a back entrance onto the highway. Except that was a dead end and the bike had to be pushed across a ditch. Not the biggest problem in the world. From there I went through Amherst, up the hilly 204 to Oxford, and then the 204 and 4 toward Truro. This was my first time heading through the beautiful Wentworth Valley since the Cobequid Pass opened. As beautiful as it is, however, the hills were a damper on progress. Today was the sixth-biggest day of climbing, though the combination of a very long, hilly day yesterday and a long, hilly day today meant for tired legs.

Between the hills and the rough start this morning I stopped far short of my goal, ending outside of Debert instead of just past Truro. Tomorrow’s ride to Halifax though remains well within reach. Perhaps the best element of my planning was to leave the final two days short to allow for whatever came up. I’m hoping for an early start and to push hard right to the end, there’s no need to spare energy for Sunday!

As a bit of a side note, the campsite I found was full. I mentioned that I have a tiny tent, am riding a bike, and could care less about amenities / trees / space as long they let me pitch the tent somewhere on their grounds. They offered a “dry camping” space in the middle of their central field for half price. It had all the trappings of a regular tent site except a picnic table and fire pit. Based on the employee’s reaction I may have been the first person to be excited for this, as all I wanted was a shower and a chance to charge my phone.

Today’s distance: 172.0 km

Cumulative distance: 6,324.6 km

Today’s climb: 1,386 m